Whilst hearing loss is often seen as an inevitable consequence of ageing, and usually merits no more than a cursory “I’m going deaf”, it should always be remembered that hearing problems can be embarrassing and cause considerable difficulties in performing day to day tasks for those affected.
Simple human interaction, particularly in noisy social situations, becomes something to be avoided. Whilst in the past, a deterioration in hearing would not be scrutinised in any great detail, it is now possible to examine both the extent of the hearing loss and the possible causes, one of which is prolonged or repeated exposure to high levels of noise in the workplace, particularly in manual professions. Loud noise exposure can also cause Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ear, which can be permanent and extremely distressing for the sufferer.
Noise Induced Hearing loss and tinnitus are conditions for which compensation can be sought, assuming that a suitably qualified ENT Surgeon is prepared to confirm that the hearing loss and/or tinnitus, whether in whole or in part, is indeed directly related to occupational noise. The ability to pursue legal action will also depend on the relevant employer remaining in existence and able to meet a claim or, alternatively, the existence of relevant insurance cover at the time of employment.
Easy and speedy access to detailed hearing tests is now available on the High Street, and the hearing experts who undertake such tests can extrapolate very quickly whether the patient’s hearing loss may be related to their employment, and will usually recommend that legal advice is sought immediately. Whilst there are exceptions, court proceedings should be issued within 3 years of the date of knowledge that the difficulties complained of appear to be employment related.
Although it is hard to envisage anything other than today’s ‘safety first’ approach to working conditions, it is not that long ago that a large percentage of the workforce were working on a daily basis in a cacophony of noise in shipyards, power stations and the like without any safety precautions whatsoever.
We only get one pair of ears each and they have to last us a lifetime. Fortunately there is a range of hearing aids and appliances, which can be obtained through the NHS or privately, which will enhance hearing quality. The costs of such aids may be recouped from the Employer or their Insurer, along with compensation for the injury itself.
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